With 2020 now behind us, we’re back for our third instalment of HTT Spotlight. In these pieces, we feature a significant figure from the local esports industry and give you an insight into who they are and how they got their start.
To kick-off this year, we sat down with one of the country's leading esports commentators and hosts, Jordan “Elfishguy” Mays, who has a career spanning almost eight years in both full-time and freelance capacities. Most notably, Jordan was the Lead Commentator and Head of Broadcast Talent at ESL Australia from 2016 to 2020 before moving into freelance work.
Throughout his career, Jordan has covered almost every title that has touched our shores. The first title he ever covered was League of Legends during its early days here in Australia, but his recent focus has been on the likes of Counter-Strike, Overwatch, PUBG and World of Tanks.
During his High School and University days, and before his casting career kicked off, Jordan was a competitor in Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Team Fortress 2. He then moved into League of Legends, and after leaving the team, he decided to cast the games instead.
Jordan and I had a chat about his career, the state of esports in Oceania and any advice he would give aspiring talent looking to enter the industry.
What attracted you to working in the esports industry?
“I think I just enjoyed playing games and competing, I was playing competitive Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Team Fortress 2 when I was in high school and uni, and when LoL came out, I transitioned to that.”
“When I was dropped from the team I was on, I decided to give casting a try. It wasn’t really something I considered as a career at the time, but as the industry grew I did too and here we are, a bit of a right place at the right time kind of situation.”
At what point did you realise that working in the esports industry here in Oceania was viable and is there anything you would have changed if you had the chance to go back in time?
“Had to be when I got the offer to join ESL Australia full time, which was early 2016. That was the first chance I had to earn a ‘living wage’ from esports, where prior to that, I had been earning $200 for a weekend of casting if I was lucky.”
“If I were to change something I think maybe I would like to say I’d go back and move overseas to Germany (I have a German passport and can speak German) or somewhere else when I had that option more available to me.”
“I think the opportunities one can get overseas are just so much better than they are here, even at a ‘tier two’ level overseas you are probably better off than you are at ‘tier one’ in OCE.”
For those looking to enter the industry in your line of work, what advice would you give to them?
“Try not to piss off the wrong people is probably the biggest one. One negative opinion can unbeknownst to you slow down or restrict your career for a long time. There are a lot of people that can open doors for you, but the opposite can be said if they’re not fans of you on a personal level.”
“So I guess, be careful what you say/do in public, and be even more careful what you do behind closed doors when you are interacting with the people who will send work your way.”
Are there any other roles you would be keen to take on in esports or any that you’d be willing to tackle if given the opportunity?
“At the moment I am still mostly focussed on commentary as a primary role for the foreseeable future, at least for the next 12 months, but I could definitely see myself doing something different down the track.”
“I’d probably like to have some creative control over a product or some degree of input on what the broadcast looks like. So that might be something like project management or creative director or a broadcast producer of some sort. It’d take some upskilling on my part because I’m not too knowledgeable when it comes to production, but I think I’d bring a fairly unique perspective to the role, having been in front of the camera – then going behind it to produce the shows.”
You’ve worked a magnitude of events throughout your tenure, which events stand out to you the most and why?
“Hard to really say anything but IEM Sydney ‘18/’19 to be honest. They are the kind of events that very few people get to work on, especially in the talent world, so to be a very large part of what the viewership experience was like at those shows was a really humbling experience. Those are the kinds of shows that any caster is working towards, it’s the kind of opportunity that keeps you going through all the bedroom casts.”
“I’d give a shout out to the Crossfire Stars Grand Finals shows that I do most years as well, most of my followers here in Australia wouldn’t pay too much attention to them, but those events are pretty sick and always a pleasure to go to China to cover.”
Oceania has been battling a lot of disappointing news over the past year, has any of this affected you and how have you combated it?
“I don’t know that a lot of the rough times have directly affected me. Actually this year has been my busiest yet just from a broadcast standpoint, so in that respect I am doing ok. Obviously I haven’t been able to go overseas and do some of the shows that I was regularly doing in China and elsewhere, but I have been able to pick up a lot more work here so that’s mostly been good.”
“I did feel like I had more free time though, so as most people would’ve seen I’ve started making youtube content with some talk shows and interviews and such. That’s been going reasonably well. I had hoped to hit 1k subs by the end of the year which didn’t quite happen, I was on track to do it but slowed down on some of the releases when work picked up with all the international ESL shows we did later in the year. I guess doing those videos has kept me pretty busy when the broadcasts have been a bit slow.”
Adding to the last point, what are your overall thoughts on the state of the industry here in Oceania?
“I’m not too concerned at the moment. As long as ESL Australia still exists, we’ll always be in a good place with at least 1 solid TO in the mix. I think it’ll really take someone like LPL, Fortress, Blast or another entity to step up to the same level that ESL has in this region before we can really say we’re in a super solid spot.”
“At the moment I don’t quite see the same level of impact and standards from those other TO’s that I do from ESL, but if they do start to push things to greater heights that is only better for us all.”
“Obviously it’s not an easy thing to do, and it’s taken ESL Australia 5 years to get to where they are now, so we’ll have to wait and see how those other guys are going in a few years time. Hopefully one or two more TO’s can spring up and show some interest in the region as well.”
What can we expect to see for yourself in the coming future - what’s on the horizon?
“Not sure really, the start of the year is always a fairly quiet period for me, things usually pick up in late February or early March.”
“You’ll probably see me on a few of the ESL shows like ANZ Champs and hopefully some World of Tanks too when those kick off again, but for now nothing solid is locked in. I’m definitely keen to chat with anyone who’s looking for a caster since I have some free time right now!”
If you have anyone in mind from the Australasian esports industry that you would like us to spotlight in the near future, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org